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Weighing the costs of Covenant adoption

Weighing the costs of Covenant adoption

Mark Harris, PRELUDIUM blogger and member of the Executive Council D020 Task Force, considers the possible outcomes of The Episcopal Church’s eventual response(s) to the proposed Anglican Covenant.

All this, of course, in light of the release of a Covenant related report by the Standing Commission on Constitution and Canons to the Task Force two days ago. (Harris is quick to point out that the report opines rather than resolves – a point worth reiterating.)

As far as I can see, the report opines that there are indeed Constitutional and Canonical issues. The form of the resolution that might come to Convention then would either take the conditional form ( we adopt the Anglican Covenant conditional on passage at two General Conventions of the following change in the Constitution and the appropriate changes as required on second reading if it passes, to the Canons) or it might come as an absolute statement, (we adopt the Anglican Covenant confident that we will live into the reality of its implications for our common life in legislation that will be forthcoming.) The first cannot come to fruition until 2015. The second could declare intention and make the Covenant operational and assume rapid passage of the various Constitutional and Canonical Changes, and could be passed in 2012.

The slower method is more, well, methodical. The second is perhaps more assuring, but has several traps in it. We will in all likelihood be presented with an election of a candidate for bishop who falls outside the moratoria requested in the Windsor Report and further pressed by meetings of the Primates within the next three years. That we (TEC) would allow such candidates to get so far in the process as to be considered at all is viewed by some as a sign that we can not sign the Anglican Covenant in good conscience. So the “good faith” adoption of the Covenant may not fly….

But, if we take the SCCC report seriously we cannot accept or adopt the Covenant without some form of rapid change in our Constitution and Canons. In the meanwhile, the moratoria on ordaining bishops who are gay and in a relationship continues and continues to be disavowed. I do not see TEC changing its current willingness to consider such elected bishops as bishops of this Church.

What to do?

Harris’ possible permutations seem a fair summation, and it makes you wonder. I’ve been accused of not seeing shades of gray on this issue, but if there’s no way into the Covenant that involves not crossing our fingers (even after accommodating it structurally); and if there’s no way to live in it and be faithful to the Gospel as we see and discern it; and if there’s no way out of it but by fiery trial with “relational consequences” and vague powers of enforcement … then tell me again: why sign on?


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E Sinkula

If the Episcopal Church signs the covenant then I highly doubt that gay bishops and blessing won’t be brought up against our church, or the church won’t cave into pressure to go back to a long-standing “moratorium” as we did with the Windsor Report. Either way, the fighting will continue, and I cannot say that I will stay in the church for it. By now there are other denominations that are willing to compromise and move on. I am getting older and sick of the bickering.


tobias haller

Thanks, Lionel. I think it’s time we stood up and reaffirmed what Lambeth is, and isn’t! It was the fictional authority of Lambeth that created this whole mess in the first place.

Lionel Deimel


No matter what GC 2012 does, adopting your suggested resolutions would be a good idea. Under the Covenant, even if we are not disciplined specifically for same-sex blessings or openly gay bishops, the “orthodox” will always find some complaint to lodge against us. Their version of “Anglican” theology is simply different from (and incompatible with) our own.

tobias haller

ps I really didn’t mean to shout; only wanted to bold “proven”…;-)

tobias haller

As I see it, the way to “not cross fingers” is to reject Lambeth 1.10 and the Windsor Report as authoritative, and to reaffirm that the “mind of the communion” is not settled on the matters on which some seem to think it is. And to reaffirm our belief that the actions of TEC objected to are in fact in accord with Scripture, Tradition, and Reason, even to the extent described in the Covenant. And then move forward from there.

Unlike the Jerusalem Declaration, the Covenant does not address specific issues. (Hence its rejection by some). It is up to us to make our case, or re-make it, if need be, and then have the courage, if the case cannot be accepted, to say, then fare well — we have no wish to be part of a Communion which imposes doctrinal conditions that cannot be proven from Scripture. (Obviously the reason there is disagreement on the sexuality issues is a result of this very lack of convincing proof of the moral wrongness of same-sex marriage or the ordination of men or women who happen to live in such covenanted relationships.)

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